for this game

Southern Illinois tops Creighton, takes over first in MVC

Feb 11, 2007 - 4:56 AM CARBONDALE, Illinois (Ticker) -- Matt Shaw broke out of a slump to put Southern Illinois alone in first place.

Shaw scored 25 points to lead the 20th-ranked Salukis to a 72-68 victory over Creighton in a showdown for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Southern Illinois (21-5, 12-3 MVC) beat Creighton for the eighth straight time in winning for the 52nd time in 53 conference games on its home floor.

Making their first appearance in the national rankings in nearly two years, the Salukis used their trademark defense, which is ranked No. 4 nationally, to overcome the Blue Jays (17-8, 11-4) for their seventh straight win.

But Southern Illinois also put on a brilliant shooting display, making 12-of-14 shots (86 percent) in the second half and finishing at 65 percent (26-of-40) for the game.

"It felt like we didn't miss a shot," Salukis coach Chris Lowery said. "Eighty-six percent from the field in a half is unbelievable."

"They hit some jumpers," Creighton coach Dana Altman said.

As it turned out, Southern Illinois needed every one. Creighton opened a 53-47 lead with 11 1/2 minutes left on back-to-back hoops by Nick Porter.

The Salukis stormed back with an 18-5 run over the next seven-plus minutes, taking a 65-58 lead on Jamaal Tatum's fallaway jumper with 4:12 to play.

Creighton responded by scoring six straight points to pull into a 67-67 tie on two free throws by Porter with 1:13 remaining.

After each team split a pair of free throws, Porter missed a driving layup to tie and Shaw grabbed the rebound with 1.6 seconds left.

Shaw, who had scored in double figures just once in his past seven games, buried both free throws to clinch it. He finished 9-of-12 from the floor.

"I just got good looks tonight," Shaw said. "We did a great job of penetrating and pitching and just finding each other when we were open. I've never seen anything like it."

Tatum added 18 points for Southern Illinois, which shot 64 percent (26-of-41) from the floor and hit 8-of-11 3-point attempts. Tatum had played just six minutes in Wednesday's win over Bradley due to a deep thigh bruise.

"I don't care if I had to come up with some home remedy and put batteries on my leg and tie a shoelace around it," Tatum said. "I was going to play. I wanted to be a part of it."

The Salukis also got a boost down the stretch from Wesley Clemmons, who scored seven points in a 1:35 span.

"Wesley is starting to get back to where he was the first part of January," Lowery said. "He's our sixth starter, and we feel really good about him being in."

Nate Funk and Dane Watts scored 17 points apiece for the Blue Jays, who had their five-game winning streak snapped and lost their 22nd straight game to a ranked team on the road.